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Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Disease - Video

The animated videos in NORD’s Rare Disease Video Library provide brief introductions to rare disease topics for patients, caregivers, students, professionals and the public. NORD collaborates with medical experts, patient organizations, videographers and Osmosis to develop the videos, which are made possible by individual donations, educational grants and corporate sponsorships. NORD is solely responsible for the content.


General Discussion

Nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease is a general term for a group of disorders characterized by exposure to specific bacterial germs known as mycobacteria. These germs are found in the water and soil and are common throughout the environment as a whole. They usually do not cause illness. The term ‘nontuberculous’ is used to differentiate these disorders from the mycobacterium that cause tuberculosis (i.e. mycobacterium tuberculosis complex). These disorders also exclude Mycobacterium leprae, the mycobacterium that causes leprosy. In NTM disorders, the severity of infection and the disease course can vary greatly from one person to another. The most common symptoms include a persistent cough, fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, and occasionally shortness of breath (dyspnea) and coughing up of blood (hemoptysis). Less often, NTM infection can cause skin or soft tissue infections or infection and inflammation of the lymph nodes (lymphadenitis). Most evidence indicates that these infections are not transmitted from one person to another, but are acquired from the environment. NTM lung disease most commonly affects people with an underlying lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia, and alpha-1-antitrypsin disease, but individuals with no prior history of lung disease can also be affected. Less severe infections may not require treatment. In other cases, the infection can become chronic requiring ongoing treatment.

Synonyms of Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Disease

  • Mycobacteria other than tuberculosis (MOTT)
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Disease
  • Nontuberculosis Mycobacterium
  • NTM

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